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Abuse of power

Don’t get me wrong. If President Clinton is impeached for perjury, I’ll be pleased. But it seems to me, Congress is, while focusing on the Monica Lewinsky affair, overlooking many other systematic and routine abuses of power by this president. I’m not talking about the scandals we so often discuss — Filegate, Chinagate, Whitewater, Travelgate, etc. I’m talking about abuses that are much subtler — abuses that occur nearly everyday just under the radar screen.

Just this week, for instance, Clinton issued an executive order granting pay raises to federal workers nationwide. Every federal worker will see at least a 3.1 percent increase in pay beginning next month, because of this action. Furthermore, he’s promising federal employees they will see another bigger boost in salary in 2000 — a 4.4 percent raise that would be the largest hike since 1981.

In this day and age when the Constitution is seldom consulted by anyone in or out of government, such an action could easily be overlooked. There’s one problem. Congress is the branch of government charged with the responsibility to expend funds.

This is a constitutional breach of authority. Furthermore, Clinton no doubt took this unilateral action to help bolster his poll numbers across the country at the moment he is facing impeachment. In effect, what he did, was to reach into the pockets of every non-federal employee in the country, take their money and give it to someone else. No debate, no vote, no legislation. Just a stroke of the pen.

Like no other president in American history, Bill Clinton has reveled in his use of executive orders. He uses them for any purpose, any time, with little thought to precedent or the law.

Remember his aide Paul Begala’s arrogant remark last July in explaining how Clinton would use the executive order to “go over the heads of Congress”?

“Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool,” he said.

Rahm Emanuel had this to add to the strategy: “He’s ready to work with Congress if they will work with him. But if they choose partisanship, he will choose progress.”

Progress, indeed — an unaccountable chief executive making laws, spending taxpayer money, rewriting the Constitution. Really cool.

The power to issue executive orders originally was intended to give presidents rule-making authority over the executive branch. Clinton’s not the first to use it instead for sweeping public policy decisions. While some constitutional scholars question this use, Congress has not
batted an eye Clinton’s reckless, dictatorial abuse of the executive order. Even Executive Order 13083, a flagrant rewrite of the 10th Amendment powers of states and the rights of individuals, went right over the heads of every member of Congress until it was reported in WorldNetDaily and an uprising among state and local officials occurred.

In the latest order, Clinton was merely catering to his most loyal constituency — boosting his standing among the perpetual pro-government lobby. These are people who can be counted on, for the most part, to write letters to Congress against impeachment. In effect, he just bought himself millions of lobbyists with your money.

This is the kind of abuse of authority that must be stopped by impeachment. But it’s the kind that needs to be exposed to the American people for what it is — a violation of the Constitution. It’s not enough just to dump Clinton. This abuse must never again be tolerated by any president of any party.

And therein lies the problem. Some Republicans, no doubt, look forward to the day when they, too, might wield such dictatorial powers — when they can suspend the Constitution with a stroke of the pen.

But what’s next, folks? Where will such abuse lead? Will we sit by when the president decides to give himself a raise? How about a million bucks a year? How about retroactively? It may sound absurd. But it is no more absurd than the way Congress sits by and allows the Constitution to be perverted, twisted and distorted beyond anything the Founding Fathers ever imagined. Congress, incredibly enough, is allowing its own powers to be usurped and abrogated and permitting the executive branch to accumulate unconstitutional imperial powers.

Monica Lewinsky? Yeah, I’m concerned. Yeah, it’s impeachable. But Bill Clinton is guilty of far greater treacheries — almost too numerous to count. Congress would do well not to lose sight of that fact. Members would be wise to protect their own interests, the interests of the people and to preserve what’s left of the Constitution — before the Clintons shred it like so many billing records at the Rose Law Firm.